Why The Internet Loves To Laugh At Poor Black People

It’s a difficult thing to see how others look at you.

W.E.B. DuBois recognized this in his landmark essay on “double consciousness,” a term the writer and civil rights activist first coined in the Atlantic Monthly piece, “Strivings of the Negro People.” DuBois would later expound on the concept in the 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk, and his writings hold an eerie relevance today. “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity,” DuBois wrote. “One ever feels his two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

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